Almost 3,000 farmers with bog have applied for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme through the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
In Dail questions this week, Roscommon TD Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, how many alternative bogs have been sourced for turf cutters forced to relocate.
The Minister said a total of 2,918 applications for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme have been received and acknowledged by my Department. Of these, 806 applicants have expressed an interest in relocation to non-designated bogs.
He said progress in relocating turf cutters is being achieved in a number of cases. Arrangements for the relocation of turf cutters to non-designated bogs have been made as regards a group from Clara Bog special area of conservation in Co. Offaly and a group from Carrownagappul Bog and Curraghlehanagh Bog special areas of conservation in Co. Galway. The group from Clara Bog commenced turf cutting at the relocation site in Killeranny, Co. Offaly, in June 2012, where 23 qualifying turf cutters have now been accommodated. Arrangements have been made to enable 23 qualifying turf cutters from the group from Carrownagappul Bog and Curraghlehanagh Bog to commence turf cutting at the Islands Bog and Killasolan Bog, County Galway during the 2014 turf cutting season.
According to the Minister, progress has also been made with a view to the relocation of seven qualifying turf cutters from Ballynafagh Bog special area of conservation in Co. Kildare to Timahoe North, Co.Kildare, which is in the ownership of Bord na Móna. He said he expects that qualifying turf cutters from Ballynafagh Bog will be able to commence cutting in the relocation site during the 2014 turf cutting season, provided that an agreement is reached with them.
The Department has provided seven turf cutters from Monivea Bog special area of conservation with the possibility of relocating to a number of sites which have been assessed as suitable for relocation.
In relation to the remaining 48 raised bog special areas of conservation, he said, potential relocation sites have been identified for a further 32 bogs and work is ongoing on identifying and investigating sites. “Relocation is unlikely to be required, or is likely to be small-scale, for another 16 raised bog special areas of conservation due, for example, to the small number that had been cutting turf on these sites during the relevant five-year period and would qualify for the relocation option available under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme.”